A simple guide to heat curing

Curing your screen printed garment

When you have printed the garment you need to cure the ink otherwise when the garment goes through the wash you will notice that it fades, cracks and in some circumstances disappears altogether. There are some inks that are air dry but popular inks such as plastisol and waterbased inks need to be cured.

Curing is the actual chemical process by which the ink dries and bonds to the shirt fabric.

We are often asked ‘what is the best equipment to cure screen printing textile ink?’ The simple answer is a tunnel dryer however they can be expensive especially when starting off, so what are the options?

Important: Not all textile ink cure at the same time or temperature. Have a look at ‘The Cure’ which looks into ink curing in some detail.

Always check the documentation that comes with your ink and remember that the best test is always a wash test.

What equipment can be used?

Hair dryer

Hair Dryers – they are not hot enough, they will dry a waterbased ink but not cure it – NOT RECOMMENDED

 

 

IronIron – Don’t give an even heat and most are not hot enough to cure the ink fully. If you are printing T Shirts for your own use and are not worried about the ink gradually disappearing then an iron is an option – NOT RECOMMENDED

Heat GunHeat Guns – With a lot of patience and skill you could cure the ink but you are likely to scorch the garment so be careful. You can use a heat gun to touch dry the ink (the same job as a flash dryer) prior to printing the next colour – NOT RECOMMENDED (limited use)

 

Flash dryersFlash Dryers – normally used for touch drying the ink between prints when printing multi colour, it is possible to use a flash dryer to cure the ink but can be time consuming and requires management to ensure the garment does not burn. Works better for plastisol ink than waterbased ink (which requires longer cure).   LIMITED USE FOR LOW PRODUCTION.

 

 

 

Hand CurerHand Curer – can be used for both touch drying the ink between prints when printing multi colour and comes with a timer making use easier. Can also be used for ink curing as the hand curer uses quartz elements which heat immediately and cool immediately making the equipment safer and more energy efficient than a traditional flash dryer. We use hand curers for exhibitions and training sessions. RECOMMENDED FOR LOW PRODUCTION.

Heat PressHeat Presses – are fine for curing low numbers of garments, most modern presses have timers making it easier to manage. Heat Presses are used for lots of different applications such as vinyl transfer so commonly found in most T Shirt printing shops.

When using a heat press to cure screen printing inks you will need to put some grease proof paper or transfer release paper on the ink first before curing. You will need only a very light pressure and you will need to set the timer according to the ink you are using. Can be used for curing screen printing textile inks

 

Tunnel DryerTunnel Dryers – the best solution to cure large numbers of garments in a short space of time but the most expensive. They can cure potentially hundreds of garments per hour. We make them to all shapes and sizes based on the level of production and the size of garments being used.   If you are printing with waterbased inks choose the longest dryer you can afford to avoid having to put the garment through twice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Exposing yourself!

Making Your Artwork Positive.

Making Your Artwork Positive.

Having problems getting the right exposure times?

Stencil not washing out?

Stencil too easily losing definition?

Experiencing stencil breakdown whilst printing?

There can be lots of reasons for these problems so we have compiled a simple troubleshooting guide which might help you. It won’t solve every problem but hopefully will point you in the right direction.

Problem Possible reason and remedy
Image will not washout Are you using the right level of water pressure? You can use a power hose using light to medium pressure. Normal tap pressure is not enough. If using a pressure washer, is set it to its lowest setting?

How opaque is the film positive? Hold it up to the light. If it is letting light pass through then the emulsion will start to harden making washout difficult. Make sure your film positive printer is set to the darkest settings, you can print out 2 copies of the film positive and stick them together.   You can also use a density spray if printing Film Positives on a laser printer.

Has the emulsion gone past its shelf life? Write the date on the label when sensitising – it may save a lot of time and frustration.

Screen maybe over exposed. Check your exposure timings – you can use an exposure calculator to determine the right timings / settings for your exposure unit

Make sure when drying the screen after coating that you don’t overheat it. Temperature needs to be kept below 40c.

Not all of the image washes out or washes out easily Screen likely to be under exposed other tell-tale signs include:

If the water runoff is heavily emulsion coloured when washing out and if the emulsion feels slippery and soft.

·         Check your exposure timings – you can use an exposure calculator to determine the right timings / settings for your exposure unit

Check for uneven contact between the positive film and screen when exposing. Check the vacuum is working correctly / or glass & weights are in place.

Could be uneven coating of emulsion on the screen. Check the tension of the screen – if it is loose you will not get an even coating of emulsion. Maybe time to get the screen re-stretched.

Only use light to medium water pressure – too much pressure can remove the artwork inadvertently, resist the temptation to give the artwork a blast with the power washer on anything but light setting. After initially wetting the screen on both sides, washout from the print side only with just a final rinse on the squeegee side.

Make sure that the emulsion has been sensitised correctly, the sensitizer powder must be completely dissolved – maybe consider a pre-sensitized emulsion such as Ulano Proclaim EC.

Always degrease the screen before coating with emulsion it helps the emulsion adhere to the mesh as well reducing the chance of pinholes and fish eyes

Stencil washed out but ink won’t go through part of it when printing Check your exposure timings as the screen is likely to be underexposed – you can use an exposure calculator to determine the right timings / settings for your exposure unit

Make sure that the emulsion is thoroughly washed out as the emulsion can run into the stencil on the squeegee side blocking the artwork. Sometimes you can clean it out with a damp cloth (luck is involved – so best to get the exposure timing and washout right)

Stencil not dried properly after washing out – you can’t beat a drying cabinet (either manufacturer or homemade). Always inspect the stencil in the light to make sure no moisture remains.

Before exposing make sure that the screen is completely dry, the emulsion should be the same ambient temperature of the drying room. If the emulsion is cooler it still has some water content.

 

Fish Eyes Normally caused by contamination so make sure you have degreased your screen thoroughly and that your workspace is clean. Also check that the exposure unit glass is clean and that there is no contamination on the film positive.

Check that the coating trough is clean, dust free and that the edge is completely clean (make sure there is no evidence of the old emulsion on the coating trough).

When coating the screen, move the trough steadily and with purpose. If you coat too fast the emulsion won’t adhere to the screen correctly. Conversely if you coat too slow and the coating may be too thick.

Fish Eyes can also occur during printing if there is an issue with the emulsion e.g. over its shelf life

Pinholes Similar to Fish Eyes – watch out for contamination on the mesh so make sure you degrease screens.

Dirty glass on the exposure unit is often a culprit, or contaminated film positives.

Make sure that there are no air bubbles in the emulsion when coating – when sensitizing emulsion leave it at least for a couple of hours (ideally leave overnight) before using it to allow the air to escape.

Don’t coat too fast – allow the emulsion to adhere and fill the mesh aperture

 

 

Top Tip – Useful tools

Chromaline Exposure Calculator

Image result for Chromaline Exposure Calculator

Chromalie exposure calculator eliminates miscalculated exposure time with three kinds of quality checks. An easy, user friendly tool for the novice and the advanced screen maker.

Designed to help determine correct exposure time, print quality check and halftone tests.

http://www.wickedprintingstuff.com/exposing_equipment_and_digital_screen_makers/accessories_inc_bulbs_foam_and_exposure_calculator_LC241/chromaline_exposure_calculator_P2548.html

 

Maybe the best investment you make!

 

 

How to use glitter inks?

glitterGlitter designs add umph to your designs. Just a couple of things to look out for.

As glitter inks require a coarse mesh so the design should not be too detailed. They are best used for a large, block image rather than small wording. This example is perfect for glitter but a small intricate design would not work as well.

When creating your screen use solvent resistant dual-cure emulsions. You want 15-25T (8-10T metric) monofilament for direct printing and for transfer printing use 25-33T (10-12T metric) monofilament. Your squeegee should be solvent resistant and hard we recommend Wooden Squeegee with D Cut ( V Cut) Blade.  Ideal for textile printing with plastisol ink. D cut blades lay down a heavier deposit of ink.

Plastisol inks will not air dry. They must be heat cured. When fully cured the ink will withstand repeat washings.

CMYK screen printing explained

What is CMYK?

How do you do this in screen printing?

Is it the same as 4 colour printing?

Think back to school when you were painting and used blue and yellow to get green, that is the theory of the whole process. It is used all over the place and you will see the little symbol on things you use every day!

I don’t want you to rely on pictures too much because your screen or printer will subtly alter these colours. But have a look at this picture from Wiki to get an idea, yes basically it is just like school blue, red and yellow.

Now these colours can be combined to get all the rest of the spectrum

Now as you no doubt remember from school, combining them does give a murky black which is no good for our purposes which is why we have to have black. Saves ink as well.

So that is the inks but how does it work. Well you put the 4 colours onto the substrate (thing you are printing on) in dots and when the dots are on top of each other you get the various colours and your picture.

Now remember the way screen printing works, the ink is pushed through the mesh in dots! The finer the mesh the closer together the dots are so you can’t see the background colour.

Basically your brain has the illusion into thinking you see a solid colour when in fact what you see is lots of dots. All screen printing works on that principle.

The ink is normally applied in that colour order Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black although that can vary with some printers.

There is actually a principle behind the process called “subtractive”. Because you are printing on white, you are subtracting, with the inks, the amount of white(brightness) your eye sees. Now if you don’t fill in all the dots you get to see more white and that gives you paler colours, which can also be mixed and matched to get the full range. This bit is called “half tones”.

Honestly the principle is as simple as that, any water colour artist would see it immediately although they may not know what it is called.

So that is the theory, 4 inks printed in dots, here is an early example from 1902

Now how do you do this?

You have to separate your final image artwork into its CMYK elements.

If you check Photoshop all the colours show what percentage of these colours comprise the colour you see.

Photoshop automatically separates the CMYK colors into channels. Just open the channels palette and select “split channels” from the palettes flyout panel options. You will get four grayscale files, one for each channel. So you need 4 screens that have the required separate colours which when combined will give your final picture.
Be aware, however, that this is NOT how you separate artwork for screen printing. If you are printing the job as a 4 color process on white shirts, all you want are printouts of the separate channels, just print the file as “separations” with a course line screen (35 to 55 lpi) and the following angles – C: 55 degrees, M: 22 degrees, Y: 5 degrees, K: 80 degrees. Not doing this right gives you the Moire effect (it looks blurred). Other angles can be used for example.

There are literally nearly 80,000 videos on the internet describing exactly how to do this and I suggest you watch a few, several times until you feel completely confident you understand the process.

In order for all this to work you need a very high mesh count so you get lots of dots which give your brain the illusion correctly. We have kits with all you need to try this, have a look at http://www.wickedprintingstuff.com/inks_and_additives/plastisol_ink_and_additives/union_inks/trutone_range/wps_uniontrutone_process_printing_pack_P1145.html

The Trutone Process Printing Pack Contents are ;-

  • 4 x Aluminium Screens 16 x 20inches 120T
  • 4 x Wooden Squeegees with a Hard Square Cut Blade
  • 1 x PRPL-2080 Process Yellow 250ml
  • 1 x PRPL-3082 Process Magenta 250ml
  • 1 x PRPL-5080 Process Cyan 250ml
  • 1 x PRPL-8080 Process Black 250ml

This pack contains all of the essentials you need to try out the fantastic Trutone process inks at an affordable price. As ever we are completely happy to give you the benefit of our 30 years of experience so please contact us with any questions.

Here is an example of a finished product, the screens were produced using the Riso QS200.

20140909_112710

The images on my screens are not washing out correctly, why?

This question is taken from our FAQ’s. At Wicked Printing Stuff we pride ourselves on helping our customers. We don’t sell you stuff and leave you to it. We WANT to help you, whoever you are, from hobbiest to professional business. So please check out our buyers guide, FAQ’s, product sheets or ring us with any questions.

The images on my screens are not washing out correctly, why?

This can be for a number of reasons, here are a few things to watch out for:

  • That you are doing all parts of the emulsion and exposure process in a light safe environment with NO outside or bright light. This includes mixing your emulsion, coating your screens, drying screens, exposure, and washout.
  • That you are not coating your emulsion too thick. One coat both sides should do it, with a nice even spread. There are sometimes where you may need some extra coats e.g. printing transfers and printing white onto a dark garment but you will need to adjust the exposure time.
  • That your film positive is very opaque and dark. If you hold it up to a light and can see through it, you need to double print your film to achieve a more opaque image.
  • That there is positive contact between your screen mesh and your positive film. If the film is not pressed completely against your mesh then you will get light reflection between your positive and your screen which will result in a blurry and not clear image. That’s why the glass is so important.
  • That you are exposing your screen for the correct amount of time, which will depend on the exposure system you are using. If you are unclear on exposure times please feel free to ask us. The simple run of thumb is – if the emulsions washes off too easily and you start to lose the stencil then the screen is underexposed and if after prolonged washing the stencil does not come through they you are likely to have overexposed the screen.

via Wicked Printing Stuff, your home for screen printing equipment and supplies – FAQs.

How to create a screen using emulsion

Where does exposure fit in the screen printing process?

What emulsion should I use?

How long can I keep emulsion?

How do you get rid of pin holes?

How long should I dry my screen?

 

Let’s go back to basics. Screen printing is also a stencil method of print making in which a design is imposed on a screen of polyester or other fine mesh, with blank areas coated with an impermeable substance, and ink is forced into the mesh openings of the mesh by the fill blade or squeegee and onto the printing surface during the squeegee stroke.

Emulsion is the means of making impermeable substance. Light sensitive, thick liquid which coats the screen. When the screen is exposed the emulsion hardens and unexposed areas drop out to leave the stencil.

So you have your positive artwork

Making Your Artwork Positive.

Making Your Artwork Positive.

Now this process is one of the most tricky in screen printing and needs to be done thoroughly and carefully. Never skip on any step especially drying.

The first step is to degrease your screen

It is very important to degrease the screen prior to coating the screen with emulsion and exposing the artwork. A screen that is not degreased will have problems exposing and increase the chance of pinholes, the emulsion will not adhere to the screen properly and might washout before the image can be seen. The emulsion could also not wash out at all. Make sure you let it dry thoroughly before you coat it with emulsion.

Choosing your emulsion

There are many emulsions on the market and every printer will have their preferred type and brand. Some emulsions come pre sensitised and ready for use and some will need mixing. Our emulsion is a 2 part emulsion, its comes with sensitizer.

Shelf life is different depending on when the sensitizer is added . Separately both parts can last from 12-24 months. Once mixed the emulsion lasts 6-8 weeks (its life can be prolonged slightly if it is stored in a cold place, like the fridge).
Always make sure you have chosen the right emulsion if you are using Plastisol inks / Solvent inks you need a Solvent resistant emulsion like Ulano Proclaim or if you are using Waterbased inks you need a water resistant emulsion like Ulano 925wr. We also sell Autosol emulsion, which is a good dual purpose emulsion, it can be used with both waterbased and solvent inks.

Location

Make sure you are doing all parts of the emulsion and exposure process in a light safe environment with NO outside or bright light. This includes mixing your emulsion, coating your screens, drying screens, exposure, and washout (as soon as screen is exposed as long as you wash it out straight away this is not a problem)..

A costing trough is the best way to get an even coverage of emulsion. Always check to make sure the coating trough has a straight edge and no damage otherwise you will get poor coverage and you can snag the mesh.

Here are a few things to watch out for if your images are not washing out correctly:
That you are not coating your emulsion too thick. One coat both sides should do it, with a nice even spread. There are sometimes where you may need some extra coats e.g. printing transfers and printing white onto a dark garment but you will need to adjust the exposure time.

Coating Your Screen

Coating Your Screen

That your film positive is very opaque and dark. If you hold it up to a light and can see through it, you need to double print your film to achieve a more opaque image.
That there is positive contact between your screen mesh and your positive film. If the film is not pressed completely against your mesh then you will get light reflection between your positive and your screen which will result in a blurry and not clear image. That’s why the glass is so important.
That you are exposing your screen for the correct amount of time, which will depend on the exposure system you are using. If you are unclear on exposure times please feel free to ask us. The simple run of thumb is – if the emulsions washes off too easily and you start to lose the stencil then the screen is underexposed and if after prolonged washing the stencil does not come through they you are likely to have overexposed the screen.
After you coat your screen, you want it to be COMPLETELY dry  before you expose the screen.

Exposing the image

Exposing Your Screen

Exposing Your Screen

To transfer your image onto your screen you will need to use an exposure unit. There are many different exposure unit set ups on the market and each has a different light source. Each having different light sources. UV, halide and halogen are very popular in the UK. Our Wicked exposure lamp has a 1000 watt halogen light source and is provided will all waterbased and Plastisol kits.

We also sell Actinic and Metal Halide exposure units which are able to expose quicker (typical exposure time is 2 minutes for an Actinic unit and 16 minutes for the lamp depending on size of the screen) than the cheaper lamp solution. Some units include built in drying cabinets making the whole process a lot faster.

A very large part of your decision if you are new to screen printing will be your budget and space. Exposure units vary dramatically in price. The WPS Lamp is small and compact,

After exposing and rinsing out your exposure, you want your screen to thoroughly dry (and ideally harden your screen, by exposing it to the sun or your exposure unit) before inking and printing. This process is often called double baking.

Before inking you need to use blocking tape (can use brown tape or professional blocking tape) to cover up areas on the screen not covered by the emulsion. Also fix any pinholes either using blocking tape or using screen filler which is a liquid emulsion, make sure you choose the right one as there are different versions for solvent and water resistant stencils.

Now you are ready to print

Registering Your Print

Registering Your Print

When you get bigger there are other options like the Revolutionary Riso QS200 Designed for the Professional Printer which prints directly from your computer onto a screen. Then the whole process takes under 5 minutes!

Or even let us do it for you with our exposure service.

Digital Screen Makers (DSM) versus Direct to Screen(DTS) / Computer to Screen(CTS) Technologies

Digital Screen Makers (DSM) versus Direct to Screen(DTS) / Computer to Screen(CTS) Technologies

  • Easier stencil production for screen printers.
  • Improve production times
  • Improve screen quality

Over the last few years various new pieces of equipment have come into the marketplace promising a revolution in stencil production. We thought we would take time out and look at the different technologies, consider the promises made and give a view about how they work, the pros and the cons, and if these technologies would suit your business.

DSM v DTS

We are going to look at the

  • Digital Screen Makers (DSM) from RISO
    • Goccopro 100
    • Goccpro QS200
  • Direct to Screen or Computer to Screen (DTS or CTS) Systems –
    • Exile FREEStyler
    • Exile Spyder II system.

There are plenty of other DTS or CTS systems but we are focussing on the most popular in the UK.

The fundamental difference between DSM and DTS (sorry about the use of abbreviations!) is that DSM uses a silicon coated mesh (RISO refer to the Mesh as Media), the DSM machines have a thermal print head which burns off the silicon film leaving the stencil. The DTS systems print directly to a photo sensitive emulsion standard screen printing screen using ink jet or wax head technologies. Hope you are keeping up at the back!

 

 

Digital Screen Makers (RISO Goccopro 100 / QS200) Direct to Screen (CTS) (Exile FREEStyler / SPYDER II)
Pro Con Pro Con
Creates the stencil without the traditional process of using of screen degreasing, photo sensitive emulsion, dark room, film positives and washout. Simplifying and giving a clean process (which is a big Pro)

 

Good for quick turnaround low volume printing. Ideal for printers with no previous screen printing experience.

 

Work like a computer printer so relatively easy to install and implement. It does not need a RIP.

 

Lower foot print – they do not take much space.

 

You do not need a huge stock of frames.

 

 

Use proprietary mesh which is expensive and limited in options (currently 4 mesh counts available equivalent to 80T / 72T (Goccopro 100 only) / 48T and 28T).  Need to budget £7.00 – £15 per screen not including stretching cost.

 

Mesh is not as robust as traditional mesh so print runs are limited for 400 or so prints before the mesh starts to break down. Some printers use silicon oil or a mesh hardener to extend life.

 

Limited stencil versatility e.g. printing plastisol transfer is very tricky as you can’t do much about stencil depth.

 

Mesh not suited for all solvent inks

 

After you have printed 9 times out of 10 the mesh goes in the bin. There are some techniques to keep prints but don’t bank on it.

 

Machines are not maintenance free, thermal heads do need to be kept clean.

 

Thermal approach is simple and effective however ash can get left in the stencil reducing ink opacity. The remedy is to use a mesh cleaner.

Ideal for established printers looking to increase throughput and productivity. Targeted at printers using 20 – 30 screens per day. Uses the traditional approach using photo sensitive emulsion, exposing and wash out.

 

Replaces the need for film positive printing (especially when using inkjet printers) which can be expensive, slow and error prone.

 

Aids registration as units normally have standard automatic printing registration methods e.g. MHM pin system / M & R Triloc

 

Produces very high quality stencils which would be very difficult to achieve using traditional film positive process. Resolution from 600 – 2400 dpi, 55 – 60 to 110 lpi depending on the system

 

Takes advantage of current assets e.g. exposure units, screen printing frames and washout. Existing printers may find this technology easier to embed.

 

Works with all inks and mesh types.

Initial purchase price for the bigger units is very high so making DTS cost prohibitive to smaller or mid-market printers.

 

DTS requires consumables so there is an ongoing running cost Typically ranging from 0.25p to 0.70p depending on chosen system.

 

More evolution than revolution.

Some DTS systems use inkjet technology which generally speaking does not give the same level of quality of a wax ink based system used in higher end systems

 

 

 

Goccopro 100

GocoproHow does it work? Similar to a computer printer, you load the Goccopro 100 with a roll of mesh, you then output the artwork directly to the Goccopro 100 which creates the stencil and automatic cuts the mesh. Take the mesh and stretch it on to a quick stretch frame (there are some different frame options some very innovative), register on your carousel and print. When you have finished you discard the mesh and start again.

 

DSM ProcessSource: RISO website

What is good about it? Compact, quick, easy to use, the quickest way I have ever made a stencil – 5 minutes in total. Ideal for point of sale applications and very quick, simple, ideal low volume work.

What is not so good about it? Small print width (11.69” wide and up to 31.5” long), only useful for single colour jobs or lose aligned multi-colour work (this is the drawback of having to stretch the screen after the Goccopro 100 creates the stencil). It has limited mesh counts. Printing onto dark garments using the quick stretch screen is challenging, as classic ‘print / flash / print’ steps to build up the ink deposit to be opaque enough is difficult, some of the more robust stretch screens could give a better result – you might need to use a discharge ink. Not suitable for printing plastisol transfers.

Goccpro QS200

Goccopro QS200

The big brother to the Goccopro 100, but works slightly differently. You create a stretched screen first either using a quick stretch frames (there are many options out there) or a self-stretching screen like a Newman frame. You can glue the RISO mesh to a standard aluminium frame, but this is very tricky compared to re-stretching traditional mesh. You load the stretched frame on the bay, select print from your computer and the QS200 will create the stencil. You then register the screen on your carousel and print as per normal. When you have finished you discard the mesh.

DSM process 2Source: RISO website

What is good about it? Easy to use. Supports frames up to A2 size so works with 23 x 31” screen sizes, you can use it for multi-colour work, and you can use different frame types interchangeably. Good for low production printing. Quick, the fastest I have created an A4 sized stencil from start to finish is around 10 minutes (larger artwork will take longer) including stretching the screen.   Ideal for point of sale applications, good low to medium production e.g. 20 – 400 prints. Typical profile would be a DTG or Vinyl / Laser Transfer printer wanting to increase margin, screen printing 50 T Shirts with the same design would be quicker, faster and more profitable than using other technologies.

What is not so good about it? Limited mesh counts, a busy printer will experience head alignment and cleaning issues – some dirt on the print head will ruin the stencil and waste mesh. You don’t achieve high tensions on self-stretch screens, up to 19 ncm (newtons per cm) (but ok for manual printing) if you are lucky compared to 25 ncm on a brand new stretched tradition frame, so you might have to adjust print technique.   You would need to use a Newman style frame if using the machine on a fully automatic carousel and use tape to reinforce the mesh. Not suitable for printing plastisol transfers.

FREESTyler Direct to Screen

FreeStyler

 

How does it work?   You place an emulsion coated screen on the flat bed of the FREEStyler (it comes with various clamps that came be used to aid registration), you then control how the stencil is printed using RIP software that comes with the system. It replaces the Film Positive printing process, the FREEStyler uses inkjet technology to print the artwork directly on the screen with a quick drying ink which is water soluble.   When completed you expose the screen (just like normal) and washout. You don’t need to use a vacuum or glass on your exposure unit.

What is good about it? Designed for the small and midmarket with an appropriate pricing structure, supports frames up to 36” x 26”, (creates stunning stencils Resolution from 600 – 2400 dpi, 55 – 60 lpi) which would be difficult to achieve accurately with film positives printed with an inkjet printer. Opens up a new host of opportunities for the small / midmarket printers creating 30-40 screens per day (probably will do a lot more than that but note that the consumable costs will mount up and the bigger systems might be better choice) likely to have an automatic carousel or a number of manual / semi-automatic carousels. Takes between 3 – 12 minutes to make a screen depending on what settings you are using. Uses a clamp system to enable quick accurate registration. Makes use of existing investments of screens and equipment.

What is not so good about it? There is an ongoing consumable cost for the ink (typical £0.70p per screen), it does not replace the process but complements it so not exactly revolutionary. It is a brand new system so it is a bit too early to know if there are drawbacks.

SPYDER II Direct to ScreenSpider

How does it work? Similar concept to the FREEStyler, you place a coated screen in the SPYDER. The stencil is printed using RIP software and uses prints wax ink which is water soluble. When completed you expose the screen (just like normal) and washout. You don’t need to use a vacuum or glass. The system uses bi-drectional printing and is very fast – approx 1 minute to create the screen mask.

What is good about it? Its quick, creates stunning stencils (it has a 1200 dpi and supports up to 110 lpi). It is targeted and designed for large commercial printers with challenging requirements creating large numbers of screens on a daily basis typically might have 2 or more automatic machines. Ongoing consumable cost is low approx. £0.25p per screen.

What is not so good about it? Reassuringly expensive

They are a number of CTS / DTS systems in the market place e.g. M&R i-Image ST Computer to Screen Imaging System, CST GmbH (more high end solutions for industrial printers rather than the textile market) all of them having their own pros and cons but work on a similar concept. Some solutions have an integrated LED exposure unit which offers some advantages in optimising the process. However in some respects a CTS without exposure unit is a better solution as you would be able to produce screens faster if in a high production environment than with the integrated solution.

In conclusion

Digital Screen Makers and Direct to Screen systems are a very different proposition, it is a little like comparing apples and pears. The key thing is around being clear about your requirements and business objectives before making investments in either technologies. The Digital Screen Makers are niche products which for some printers will open up new opportunities e.g. a DTG printer wanting to provide limited screen printing options. Outside of that niche the traditional approach using a Direct to Screen technology might be the better bet as you will also gain from the versatility of the traditional process. You might actually have a need for both, using the more modern technology at a trade show or exhibition where turn round speeds are vital.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements and we can help you to find the right solution for your needs.

Tunnel Dryers

When is the right point to invest in a tunnel dryer?

As your volumes grow waiting several minutes for a garment to dry using a flash dryer is no longer going to be an option. If you want to cure dozens of garments an hour then you going to need a tunnel dryer.

We have produced this handy chart to enable you to make a selection of the right tunnel dryer for you but please contact us with any questions.

Dryers

Wicked Printing Stuff manufacture the amazing WPS Panther Texitunnel Dryer Range – one of the most well known brand of dryers in Europe with a reputation for quality, reliability, longevity and performance :-
•    Texitunnel 700 – the most highly efficient small dryer in the market and the most popular dryer in UK, suitable for curing up to 500 garments per hour plastisol ink. Available in either Single Phase or Three Phase power options. Ideal for manual printers.
•    Texitunnel 700L – longer drying oven idea for Screen Printers and Digital Printers used with Annajet, Viper, Brother, Resolute DTG printers, Epson DTG, Texjet and inks needed to cure high volumes of garments, available for Three Phase Power. Ideal for manual / semi automatic and DTG printers.
•    Texitunnel 8000 series – ideal for automatic screen printers and high performance digital printers. High curing throughput. One of the most popular dryers in Europe.

If you require a longer tunnel,  wider belt or have specific requirements then please contact us. For further detailed information about our dryers please download our comprehensive eight page  fact pack

Our full range can be found here Tunnel Dryers.

When I print my shirt, my image seems to be a little blurry.

When I print my shirt, my image seems to be a little blurry.

Registering Your Print

Registering Your Print

Again this can be caused by a number of things: Are the screens tight in their clamps and the micro registration tightened? As you print the force will alter your screen’s position on the print surface. So, if the clamps holding your screens are loose then your print will be out of registration. This would especially be true on 1 colour prints.

Are the platens secured to the press and have you applied a good amount of tak to hold the garment in place. If you are using a flash, and after your second pull or colour it is burring, then the flash could be shrinking the shirt, thus distorting your print. Also if you flash for two long between colours you will start to cure the ink which can result in blurred / poor print quality.

Has your screen mesh lost it tightness? The screen needs to be tight so that your image is tight. Time to restretch.

Is your mesh count and squeegee right? It can be surprising how much of a difference this can make when printing.

via Wicked Printing Stuff, your home for screen printing equipment and supplies – FAQs.

What heat press should I buy?

WPS 4000 Heat Transfer Press Product Ref: QR1283

What heat press should I buy?

A common question but the answer is rarely straight forward as there are many factors to consider.

What is a heat press.

A heat press is a machine engineered to imprint a design or graphic on a substrate, such as a t-shirt, with the application of heat and pressure for a preset period of time.

Where does it fit in the process.

1, Choose an image to put on a product like a t-shirt
2. Print onto heat transfer paper
3. Lay the image on your t shirt
4. Use a heat press to transfer the image on the t shirt.

Which heat press should you buy

What are you going to use it for?  Garments (T Shirts, Hoodies, Caps), promotional items (mouse maps, phone cases etc) , DTG preparation and curing, sublimation, Vinyl, Plastisol transfers etc   Heat Presses are involved in all of these process however there are a few areas to consider before parting with your money

So here are some of our views …
Accurate Heat – to get the best results a heat press needs to maintain accurate and consistent heat across the platen. Too little heat may not activate the adhesives to fully fix the graphic to the garment, too much heat can affect the graphic quality, reducing opacity or not giving an even cure.

Digital control – needed to ensure you have accurate temperature you don’t want fluctuating temperatures, you need accurate timings and therefore consistent results. Many digital controllers come with timers and safety features such as auto shutdown and alarms.

Even pressure – uneven pressure will lead to poor adhesion and inconsistent curing of ink therefore always choose a press which you can adjust and set for different thickness of substrates.   Some presses have pressure gauges which are ideal for ensuring consistent results.

Size of the Heat Press – there are many sizes to choose from and a key question to ask when buying a press is ‘What is the largest size of garment / substrate will I be using?’ It normally makes good sense to buy a press that can accommodate future needs.  It’s also easier to align garments on a larger press. Some presses come with interchangeable platens which gives you much more flexibility.

WPS 4500 Sport Heat Transfer Press Product Ref: QR1279

Clam or swing away?

  • A clam has a smaller footprint, when using a swing away you need to give space for the swing which on the bigger units can be quite significant
  • A clam is typically less expensive than a swing away and less moving parts
  • It is easier to see what is going on with a clam, if a garment has gone out of alignment you can do something about it
  • Clam presses are typically more portable
  • Swing aways different from a clam with the heating element lifting up parallel and swings completely out of the way.
  • It is often stated that with a clam press to increase the chances of burned knuckles with the clam however with a swing away it is just as easy to get the fingers in the way. Quality clam presses open wide enough to reduce the chance of accidents.
  • Swing aways are often more popular with DTG printers but you can also use a Clam
  • Swings aways typically can be set to give more pressure than a clam, we have found that some transfer papers don’t work well on clams
  • You can debate this but it really does come back to personal preference and budget.  The simple answer is choose the press that suits your needs.

Budget – always choose a press with a lifetime heater warranty, with CE certification (real Certification (beware some of the cheap China imports are not made with high quality components and may not be actually certified compared to European / US presses). It’s better to buy the right equipment first time out rather than the cheapest – quality equipment is designed to last years with warranty backup if there is a problem. You will often find broken low quality heat presses lurking in the back of many print shops.  If your business is reliant on the equipment then consider the impact of the heat press breaking.

If you have questions at all please contact us to discuss your requirements